For Immediate Release
Contact: Natalia Pérez Santos

AFSCME’s Saunders blasts COVID relief package as ‘a slap in the face to front-line heroes’

AFSCME President Lee Saunders today said that while the public service worker union would not oppose passage of the negotiated COVID relief package because it includes some positive proposals, it is “a slap in the face to front-line public service workers and communities across the country:”

“The COVID relief package is a slap in the face to front-line public services workers – including nurses, first responders, sanitation workers, corrections officers and others – who have risked their lives and livelihoods during this pandemic. Emergency funding for essential services – and the front-line workers who provide them – is not some special interest giveaway like waiving corporate liability; it is critical to getting the virus under control and getting our economy moving again.

“The pandemic blew holes in budgets nationwide. Unlike the federal government, states and localities cannot run deficits. Already, 1.3 million front-line public service workers have been thanked for their heroism with pink slips, with more than a million more on the chopping block. And in communities nationwide, this means slower emergency response times, higher patient loads for nurses, fewer answered cries for help from domestic violence victims, dirtier streets, overcrowded prisons, and decaying roads and bridges. That is why economists right, left and center agree that funding for states, cities and towns is one of the best ways to jumpstart the economy.

“There are several positive items in this package, including continued enhanced unemployment, direct payments to workers, and funding for schools, child care and vaccine distribution. That is why AFSCME will not oppose passage of this bill.

“But while we appreciate the steadfast perseverance of both Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader Schumer to include emergency funding for states, cities and towns in a time of crisis, the fact is Congress has turned its back on our front-line heroes and the communities they serve. Make no mistake: it will be America’s communities that pay the price with further job losses and cutbacks in essential services.”